Hikers take a break on the 3 Meadow Trail hike during the Wellness Festival on Sunday morning.

Ashcroft Wellness Festival sizzlin’ hot fun in the desert

The first annual Ashcroft Wellness Festival is over, but people are still talking about it.

Many of us had forgotten what the heat of an Ashcroft summer feels like but our memories sure came back quickly this weekend! On went the sunscreen and out came the hats and sunglasses, and water bottles were attached at the end of every arm as people drank to stay hydrated. While the heat may have deterred some, the number of people who flowed through the downtown core was impressive.

Under an assortment of tents that had been set up on either side of the street, vendors and presenters sold a variety of wares and people moved freely between the booths and the stages that had been set up. The Kids Zone area under the watchful eye of Jo and Chris Petty was busy from start to finish as kids of all ages tried their hand at painting rocks, canvas and other crafts. The sound of music in the air and the accompanying hum of people laughing and enjoying themselves created a very festive atmosphere.

Huge congratulations to the 28 kids, ranging in age from 3 ½ to 15, who participated in the Kids of Steel Triathalon. These young athletes, all sporting bright yellow T shirts, and braving the high temperatures, finished the final segment by running down Railway Ave. and back to the car wash to the cheers and applause of festival goers. Wow! They were all amazing!

We were very fortunate to have some terrific demonstrations and workshops. From Nordic pole walking to sushi making, from photography to history walks, the committee planned something for everyone to enjoy.

But for many, the highlight of the weekend was watching the performances of Steve Elliott, Elvis impersonator extraordinaire.  The two Saturday performances featured many famous Elvis songs complete with all the “moves” that Elvis was famous for, as well as some Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and other entertainers’ hits.  A real crowd pleaser, Steve had people of all ages up dancing, clapping and singing along.

Under the shade of several combined tents spread across Railway Ave., a large crowd of people of all faiths gathered together for an ecumenical church service on Sunday morning. Anglicans, Uniteds, Hare Krishnas, and many other denominations worshipped as one. Voices harmonized together to a backdrop of drums, guitars and clapping. Ministers of several faiths contributed to the service and a feeling of togetherness was never so evident.

As the church service began drawing to a close the crowd swelled even more, as Elvis was about to make his appearance. The facial expressions and reactions of the people in the audience told it all. Steve Elliott with his amazing voice, talent and stage presence had them all in the palm of his hand. Each song, sung with such feeling by Steve Elliott, seemed to have a special meaning for someone in the audience and many could be seen wiping the tears from their eyes.

What a truly wonderful weekend it was on the streets of downtown Ashcroft. The organizing committee, together with all the volunteers who gave freely of their time, are to be commended on the quality and success of this first Wellness Festival that they brought to the citizens of Ashcroft. We really appreciated all the positive feedback and look forward to utilizing some great suggestions that were given for next year.

A huge thank you to our set up and take down crew who worked so hard in the heat and our cleanup crew wanted to pass along what an easy job they had. Congratulations to all  festival goers, you certainly are a clean and aware bunch as there was virtually no garbage to pick up. Garbage cans and recycling bins were full and the streets were left as clean as could be.

The dates have already been set for the second annual Wellness Festival. Be sure to mark July 18-20, 2014 on your calendars.

Andrea Walker

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